In Reviews

Once I was emailing a Colombian ‘Pandebono’ (cheese bread) seller and wrote ‘Columbia’ with a ‘U’ not with a ‘O’. Her response? ‘If you do that again, the Latinos will have your head on a stick, Lucinda!’ Turns out the threat worked. The motivation to not be decapitated was inspiring stuff – really focuses the mind…and everything else above the neck.

I have never made that mistake again and my relationship with the local Spanish-speaking community in Brighton & Hove remains ‘fenomenal’ (that’s ‘fantastic’ in Spanish and possibly my favourite ‘feels like you’ve learned something new, even though it’s very similar to the word phenomenal and therefore easy to remember’ word!) Feel free to use it to impress. I certainly do.

As an amigo to the Colombian community, while harbouring secret plans to run away one day with the circus, meant that my response to attend the Colombian Circus ‘Circolombia - Acelere’ was a ‘Si, gracias!’

The show was at the Brighton Dome, which was comforting as I know how seriously the staff take safety. Everyone in the queue outside had their covid passport checked thoroughly and were asked, politely, to put on masks – I was even offered a mask because I was struggling to find it in my bag (obviously found it moments later!) and the masks must be worn throughout the performance too. The sanitizer was full and in a prominent position. Muy bien! (Very good.)

It was a new experience for me as I decided to take my kids for their first ever evening theatre experience. ‘We can make magical memories’ I thought to myself as one got upset that Daddy wasn’t there (despite knowing that in advance) and the other was making one hell of a fuss about having to wear a mask. The lovely person on bag-check said, ‘By wearing your mask you’re keeping everyone safe for Christmas – isn’t that nice!’ Well played lady, well played. We got dressed up and one of my girls even wore a plastic tiara and Elsa plait she got from a kid’s magazine. Very fancy. Small-child-sophistication I like to call it.

To add to the ‘we really look after the guests here’ experience I was handed some ear plugs in sealed bags as we entered the Concert Hall. Brilliant! I can use them, so I don’t hear my theatre partners moaning about inane rubbish. ‘Because the show is lively and loud’ the staff member explained, gesturing to the children. Ah, yeah. That makes more sense. She also highlighted that booster seats were available around the corner. This caused more excitement than it truly warranted from the little ones. It’s the little things.

The introduction of the show was an extra bonus – a short and inspiring performance by ‘Brighton & Hove Youth Circus’ run by ‘The Circus Project’ who are based in Hangleton and offer kids aged 7+ to learn trapeze, rope and silks. They are a registered charity so they can offer teaching these skills to everyone. It was brilliant. The kids were amazing, and it prompted my kids to ask to join. Even more so when I bumped into Vicki McManus who runs it, and remembered me from my attendance four years ago despite regularly falling onto the giant crashmat and showing no natural skill whatsoever – that’s’ got to be a sign, right? One day I WILL be joining the circus!

The main show was best described as a jaw-dropping wild, gravity-defying circus concert. So. Much. Energy. The music! The performers! The two singers who, when they spoke to the audience and sang each question, made you go ‘Flippin’ heck – they can really sing ANYTHING!’ Like Mona-Lisa & Jean-Ralphio Saperstein in ‘Parks and Recreation’ but with with, y’know, actual talent.

Packed with acrobatic performers doing loopy things that make you worry until you realize ‘It’s okay – they know what they’re doing’. Particularly thinking of one guy who was standing on the edge of the Circle level and somersaulted down to the stalls. Whaaaaaat?!? Bonkers! Or ‘Chiflado’ in Spanish.

There was also a part where it seemed like aliens had landed. They climbed through a circular metal ‘portal’ back lit and filled with smoke, that was then used for someone to balance on his mouth as another performer pulled herself up and did the splits on the top. It doesn’t feel like a paragraph that should be typed.

Circocolombia demonstrated that they are a modern circus company made up of revered performers. They all trained and graduated from the national school of ‘Circo para todos’ or ‘Circus for all’ - a place that supports disadvantaged young people in Colombia to succeed against the odds through circus training and radiating a message of hope and peace within their communities. Jeez, I thought I was just watching an incredible show with an original soundtrack from Bogota to Brighton, but it’s more than that. It’s heart-warming.

Brighton boasts a cosmopolitan mix of people, and we have a vast Spanish speaking community. There’s the Bilingual Primary School, giving all children the opportunity to learn Spanish from the beginning of their education, and multiple foreign language schools, and even the Summer Fiesta – a celebration of all things Latin-inspired in Hove Park every year.

Brighton Dome is an arts charity made up of historic events venue, a music education service, and the biggest curated arts festival in England. Ever hear of ‘Brighton Festival’? It’s a biggie. They bring the arts and culture to a wide and diverse audience.

Times are still a little strange right now. We want to make the most of everything available to us, support the arts and even beyond that. Buying tickets to watch a show at an arts-charity venue, with performers trained at a place supporting disadvantaged young people and with an extra demonstration provided by a local circus skilled charity can only be a good thing. Providing you feel comfortable and can actually find your mask!

Lucinda

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